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September 29. 1995"
'Search' destro s all other co
Walken, Turturro make emost of film's bizarre
By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
Write about what you know. That's
what writers are always told to do.
Movie people have found that to be
true as well. Artsy movies about mak-
ing movies keep coming out. These
include "The Player," "Barton Fink"
and now "Search and Destroy."
Like those films, "Search and De-
stroy" uses the movie industry as a
backdrop. In this case, Hollywood
life is really sublimated by the events
surrounding Martin Mirkheim's (Grif-
fin Dunne) attempt to break into the
business. There is nothing too inex-
plicable in this film, as in "Barton
Fink," but there remains a certain ab-
normal quirkiness which moves be-
yond the fairly realistic "The Player."
A4fter the opening credits, the movie
begins with a shot of Dr. Luther
Waxling (Dennis Hopper) on a televi-
sion, speaking about his four -ules of
success. Behind the TV is a yellow
background, the first of many terrible
early '70s solid color zones that are
used to punctuate especially bizarre
moments in the movie. The color
scheme implies a certain
cartoonishness in the same way the
movie "Dick Tracy" did. It makes
especially hard to swallow scenes
When the film gets to a less color-
Directed by David Salle;
with Griffin Dunne and
At The Michigan Theater
fully horrific scene, we encounter
Martin, a small time Florida enter-
tainment producer (i.e. he puts on
circuses) who is at an IRS audit. Mar-
tin is full of nauseating self-improve-
ment phrases that he has picked up
from Waxling's various products.
Especially important to Martin is
Waxling's book "Daniel Strong,"
which is basically an adventure story
with certain other elements.
The film occasionally cuts away to
scenes from "Daniel Strong," which
can be a bit disconcerting. The sud-
den appearance of a naked woman
wearing mime makeup while the
Daniel Strong character fondles the
clay breasts of a sculpture he is mak-
ing in the mountains just isn't what
you'd expect. These types of stylistic
elements create the bizarre undercur-
rents of the film which give the im-
pression that something is a bit odd
while at the same time the oddity is
not entirely graspable.
Martin is so effected by "Daniel
Strong" that he decides he wants to
make a movie of it (and makes the
viewer see the periodic whacked out
asides to Strongland). He flies to Dal-
las to try to convince Waxling to al-
low him to make the movie. At the
same time, he becomes entangled with
Waxling's secretary, Marie (Ileana
Douglas, a.k.a. Mrs. Martin Scorsese).
Dennis Hopper plays Waxling in
his standard Hopper style, although
mellowed a slight bit. Waxling isn't
evil, or even essentially bad, so
Hopper's standard acting has been
altered slightly to fit the role, much
like in "True Romance."
Of course, in "True Romance" Den-
nis Hopper and Christopher Walken
tangled, so we must then consider
Walken's character in "Search and
Destroy." As Kim Ulander, Walken
gives a fairly straightforward Walken
performance. He is a businessman in
a dark suit and is playing with an
incomplete deck of marbles. This
seems to be due to his devotion to
"Daniel Strong," equal in strength to
Martin's but not as good-natured.
While Ulander carries his obsessions
to the opposite extreme of Martin's, it
for this reason that the two are thrown
so strongly together.
Walken was born to play socio-
paths and his casting here is as sure as
it has been anywhere else. His com-
mand of gesture and deadpan facial
expression make him effective in most
any role he plays. You may assume,
though, that he'd probably have prob-
lems playing a genuinely happy char-
Ileana Douglas's portrayal of Marie
is effective in presenting a slightly
malleable horror movie writer aspir-
ant. She works well with Dunne's
Martin, giving his rather aimless char-
acter a solid base against which to be
defined. Having their destinies tied
so closely to each other keeps the
movie from being a dismal "Death of
a Salesman" clone. It might even
qualify the film to be considered a
mutation, because the originally pa-
thetic Martin does evolve.
For about an hour, "Search and De-
stroy" bounces along before you real-
ize that it's been an hour. Then things
slow down sufficiently for the end to
be eagerly awaited. And, thankfully,
it comes along in a sufficiently short
period of time. In the end, this film is
underground enough to allow you to
talk about it with your film major
buddies and not feel bad about it.
So go on, you've seen "Pulp Fic-
tion" enough already.
An animated conversation with Ren and Stimpy creator John
By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
Recall, if you will, a cartoon show
named "Ren and Stimpy." You may
remember that it was very good. It
was produced by a company named
Spumco, until Nickelodeon execu-
tives decided that they didn't like
Spumco and so fired them.
Spumco still exists, even though
they no longer make "Ren and
Stimpy." And its president is still John
Kricfalusi (or John K.), the cartoonist
who created the angry dog and the
stupid cat. Spumco has just put out a
comic book written and drawn by the
Spumco staff, entitled "Comic Book."
The first issue features the adventures
of Jimmy the Idiot Boy as he searches
for turtle food. So how does a cartoon
crafter leap to direct comic book mak-
"Mort Todd, a guy at Marvel (Com-
ics), a comic book artist, writer and
editor, called me up," said John K.
"He's a friend of mine. And he said
'Hey, you know 'Ren and Stimpy Com-
ics' are selling, and those are imitations
of what the show is. Why don't you do
something with your animation artists
for us?' So I said OK. We'd just gotten
fired, we needed a job. We took one of
the characters from the 'Ren and Stimpy
Show,' George Liquor, (and put him in
That's right, Nickelodeon relin-
quished rights to George Liquor to
Spumco. "They never really liked the
character because they're a bunch of
Fortunately, Spumco will not let the
character die. "('The Goddamned
George Liquor Show') was in develop-
ment (for TV), now it's in development
for a feature. 'The Ripping Friends'
(another feature) is kind of on the back
burner. We want to do another feature
first because 'The Ripping Friends' is
just too manly to attempt as your first
feature. We have to do a lot of working
Kricfalusi also spoke ofhow Spumco
has had some trouble getting their work
going. "Hollywood does not want to
entertain people, they just want to take
their money. So we keep running into
this problem here of everytime we de-
velop something with somebody, they
want to ruin it, they want to change it
into something it isn't. So we're sitting
around, scratching our heads trying to
figure out how to get our stuff just the
way people like it on the screen. One
way is to get the characters popularized
in other mediums. So we have the comic
book, and that's why we started the toy
company. We're making these weird
toys. We have this line of talking butt
toys. Pull the string out of their butts.
Pull a string out of George Liquor,
Talking Man, and he says 'What are
you doing back there?' or 'Look me in
the eye when you do that.' Which is
backwards thinking, but that's the way
But Spumco seems to be on track
now. With toys in production and mul-
tiple things in development (including
"Brick Blast Off From the Outback,0
which is about "a real rugged manli'
captain of the space police who lives.
400 billion years from now"), these-"
rebel cartoonists seem set to take thb-
world by storm. "Comic Book" seems
to be full of interesting stuff. "We have
a story called 'Nutty the Friendly
Dump.' We also have another story.
called 'Weekend Pussy Hunt.' That's
my favorite one... It's a film noir story
about a dog and a cat, and the horrible
things the cat goes through. It's really
John K. and Spumco are working
towards a better cartoon world through
the creation of interesting stuff. When
was the last time you made some inter-
John K. said to "tell all the univer-
sity girls to come out and see me.
Smart ones, with big brown eyes..
He'd probably accept everyone else,
too. He's going to be doing an appear-
ance at Dave's Comics in Royal Oak
tonight from 7-9. Call (810)548-1230,
for info. He's also going to be at the
Gibraltar Comic Con as well, on Fri-
day, Saturday and Sunday. Call (313)
287-2000 for details. And finally, John
K. said he'd be at Lili's Bar in
Hamtramck in the next few nights to.
just talk with people. Call (313) 875-
6555 for directions or to see if they
know anything about it. You can also
contact Spumco at
email@example.com and complain to
them or give them your credit card
numbers or whatever.
TNe berened and smoKing jacket-clad George Uquor Is Just one of te demented creations of Jonn Krcaii .
left wing, ex-hippie, drugged out hippie
ladies that went corporate. They don't
like Republicans. They don't like men
is what that comes down to. George
Liquor represents all that's good and
bad in men."
John K. continued to explain the char-
acter: "George Liquor's kinda like my
dad. There's a lot of my dad in him. A
lot of everybody's dad, probably. You
know how dads love you, but at the
same time they've got to teach you
discipline? 'Gonna raise you right. I'm
gonna raise you hard. I'm gonna love ya
son, but I'm gonna love you haaard.
Ain't gonna be no kind of pansy love,
either. You'll know you've been loved
when I get through lovin' ya. Little
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